Barracks attacked in Carcassonne
If a social explosion is coming it might begin in the historic city of Carcassonne, department of l'Aude, that has seen so much violence in recent years. The night of December 5-6 was exceptionally violent. Hooded individuals cut through the fence of the riot police barracks at 2:00 a.m. and in the hours that followed, eighteen cars were burned and seven arson fires were reported throughout the city. It happens that large forces of gendarmes were already in the city on Wednesday night with the goal of carrying out a major operation on a camp of gypsies early Thursday morning, but the new incidents resulted in a visit from Interior Minister Manuel Valls, a declaration of crisis and significant police reinforcements.
A local paper, La Dépêche reports:
(…) Two hooded men, having neutralized the video surveillance system, cut through the barracks fence. Spotted and chased by the guards, they fled to the parking lot near-by where a car was waiting. Even if these barracks are in a sensitive neighborhood, it's the first time they have been invaded.
Note: The article stresses repeatedly that this was an exceptional event. Carcassonne has been the scene of many "exceptional" events since the arrival of non-European immigrants.
Seven cars were set on fire, not at once, but successively in areas without video surveillance. (…) In all, eighteen cars were destroyed in these seven fires. Fortunately there were no casualties.
Despite disturbing incidents these past several weeks in the Ozanam neighborhood, nothing foreshadowed such a night of violence. There was, you recall, an arson attack on the neighborhood church on November 24-25. A few days later, firemen were hit by stones when they came to put out a trash can fire. But these incidents seemed to be the work of isolated unorganized individuals. The latest events, on the contrary, suggest a preplanned operation even if, as of now, the police have not established a link between the break-in of the police barracks and the arson that followed.
"We are determined to hunt down the perpetrators of these acts," hammered away the prefect of l'Aude. "Carcassonne is a rather calm city. We won't allow this to happen. The prime objective is to protect the population."
In the painful story of urban violence, car burnings are almost an everyday occurrence. And in the absence of witnesses, it is very difficult to identify the perpetrators of these acts that usually affect those with modest incomes. Yet, the violence that shook Carcassonne on Thursday seemed even more preplanned. By attempting to enter the guarded barracks (to do what, exactly?) and with the risks of such an operation, the perpetrators pushed back the accepted boundary of police services.
Note: In the convoluted language of the journalist (which I have simplified!) he means that the police have been provoked and could therefore do something they are not accustomed to doing - like shoot the criminal. But what would that do to the dream of "living-together"?
There is another story about gypsies in Carcassonne, that I hope to discuss later.